A Rose without any thorns

I have written before about three friends whose friendship began for three of us in elementary school with one joining our group in junior high school. Yesterday, I learned the last of our eight parents had passed away during the night. It is fitting that Rose was the last one to go.

Each of our parents were fine people and raised good families. While we used their first names among ourselves, usually referring to a quirk or possible punishment for our misdeeds, we always called the adults Mr. or Mrs. Except for Rose. We all called her by her first name.

Rose was much younger than her husband, so he passed away in his late 60’s over 45 years ago while we were in junior high. So, we gravitated to Rose. She was as approachable and welcoming a person as you could find. She was not unlike my brother-in-law, Joe, of whom I wrote after he passed away in September. This Rose did not have any thorns.

Raised in Pennsylvania as an American of Italian descent, Rose was a devout Catholic. When I think of her, I remember her well-attended Christmas parties before  Midnight Mass. Each year around 10:30 pm, the party would come to a close to go hear the beautiful Mass, which was memorable for its contemporary music. When in town, I would not miss these occasions. When away, I would call around 10 pm to wish her and her son, Merry Christmas.

The other things I remember are her sense of humor and interest in others. The two went hand-in-hand, as she took delight in being teased and telling stories. Her son makes a living off a self-deprecating sense of humor and ability to tell stories, which he learned from her. Being a good Italian-American, we teased her that if you cut off her hands, she could not complete her stories. If you asked Rose travel directions, she would invariably draw with her fingers on the table. She was quite the animated person.

My wife and I last saw Rose three years ago when we were looking for a memory care facility for my mother. We stopped by to see her in her room at one of the places, as she too, was battling a declining memory. She perked up as she remembered me, most likely without knowing my name. But, we carried on a lovely conversation about the past and her son and my friendship.

Dementia and its evil twin Alzheimer’s are horrible diseases. We are glad to have seen her before further demise. Rose lived  a joyous life, filled with friends. She welcomed her son’s friends into her home and gave us all another mother to hug. Bless you Rose. And, as the Father would remind us, Peace be with you, your son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter.


20 thoughts on “A Rose without any thorns

  1. I am sorry for your loss, Keith. It is always a bit of our childhood they take along. I am glad for you that you met Rose a few years ago and had a nice conversation before the disease progressed.

  2. Note to Readers: Rose worked with another friend of ours mother named Marie. Both were short in stature, but could light up a room with their laughter. Rose collected many friends over the years, but Marie was a long time constant.

    I mentioned the Midnight Masses. Two things stand out to me outside of the huge crowds. The choir did a beautiful rendition of a song called “Alpha and Omega,” a congregation favorite. The other is the Father would invariably say “Happy Easter,” as well, as he knew many in the crowd would not be seen again until the next Midnight Mass.

  3. Sorry for the loss of Rose, she sounds like the kind of person we all need in our lives. I always think being allowed to be on first name terms with those of that generation meant that they stood out from the rest. Enjoyed reading this.

  4. Note to Readers: I learned that her funeral Mass will be at the church I described above. The priest who served there for years will be presiding. He must be in his late 70’s or early 80’s, as I remember him when we attended in high school. This is fitting.

  5. Note to Readers: I am back today from the funeral in my old home town. It was a lovely and fitting service and it was great to see old friends, although under not ideal circumstances. Her son spoke last and noted this church was his mother’s “happy place.” She was there when it opened its doors in 1972. He also shared the story of his mother’s answer to his question of why she never remarried. He shared that she saw his face when his father died and decided she had one mission to raise a good son and she did not want a distraction from that mission. That was a choice she made that others may have not, but it is evidence of her devotion to her son. Nonetheless, as her son rightfully said, his mother was the best person he knew.

  6. Dear Keith,

    This is a loving tribute to Rose who made a difference. She is someone who will be missed but she has left behind many like you with good memories to share about her.

    I am so sad to learn about your loss and I send you my condolences. You have lost someone who was very special.

    Hugs, Gronda

    • Gronda, she was a gem. Her son said she was the best person he knew. You have been doing a lot of catch up reading. Thanks for taking the time, as I know how hard it is to do so when you been absent. I hope you are doing better. Keith

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